Republican Voters: Unencumbered By the Thought Process

I suppose we’ve all gotten used to the idea that GOP pols live in a protected bubble of ideas so loopy, so divorced from reality, that they might have been conceived by the same geniuses who brought you oysters with zippers and the ICU catering service for the upscale terminal patient who wants a little something extra. And I suppose we’ve also gotten used to right-wing trolls whose mental development ended with the Neanderthal Period. You know them, the ones who think the solution to the most delicate problems is a sledgehammer while the solution to the toughest, most complicated problems is a sledgehammer.

But what about that vast middle ground, the GOP voters who are neither neocon fantasists nor unhinged wingnuts? Are they, perhaps, wrestling with demons? Pouring over the consistently bad news about Republican candidates, trying to find some ray of hope hidden in the morass of hypocrisy, lies, and a bevy of ex-wives? Are they maybe carefully weighing their options, trying to find a reasonable balance between security and liberty? Or are they just throwing darts at candidate photos while blindfolded and hoping for the best?


Neither, as it turns out. The Boston Globe‘s Lisa Wangsness took a trip to South Carolina to find out how the Pubs who will be voting in the first-in-the-South primary, the ordinary Pub-in-the-street as it were, are making their decision. The results of her safari into GOoPerLand may explain a good deal of what’s happened in the last decade or two. Take Myra, for example.

The clashing perspectives of the candidates were echoed in the crowd Saturday in Irmo, a town near the state capital of Columbia where people from far and wide gathered for the Okra Strut, a parade and festival celebrating the slimy green vegetable so beloved in the South. As squads of girls’ dance teams kicked and twirled and vans emblazoned with the names of churches rolled by, Myra Gilbert, 48, a Wendy’s franchisee from Chapin, said Giuliani was her favorite candidate so far for one simple reason: “proven leadership.”

What proven leadership would that be, perchance? His insistence on moving NYC’s Emergency Response leadership teams into a building that had twice before been targeted by terrorists just so he could meet his girlfriend without going across town? Or his lying, dissembling, and promise-breaking to the First Responders he betrayed after the buildings fell? Or that he will stop whatever he’s doing, even if he’s in the middle of a major speech, to take phone calls from his trophy wife – his third – so she can tell him which leadership skills he should emphasize?

Nope, none of the above. Myra’s worried about terrorists.

Yes, she disagrees with him on abortion, she acknowledged with a shrug. But, she added, “My number one issue is antiterrorism. If you don’t do that, nothing else matters.”

Living as she does in that hub of terrorist activity, Irmo SC, Myra’s biggest concern is the fact that Osama bin Laden has apparently named the Wendy’s in Irmo as his next US target, and she’s determined to vote for somebody who will protect her. Rudy, whose speechwriters work “I will fight terrorism” into every speech a minimum of 346 times and “9/11” 3 times per sentence, meets the bill. She seems blissfully unaware that he hasn’t actually done anything except talk about it, and that he has in fact promised to make her even less safe by bombing Iran. Or maybe that’s a positive for her.

Her husband isn’t so sure. His issue is more serious.

“Giuliani has been through several wives,” he said. “His leadership ability is proven a little bit more, but family issues . . . that’s a negative for him.”

Yah think? So our first two typical Pub voters are making their decision for the most powerful leader in the world on the basis of whether he talks about terrorism and what kind of “family values” he has. Um, what about RG’s economic strategy? his plans to straighten out the health care crisis? his environmental policies? What about what Rudy wants to do about international trade, global warming, the declining dollar, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, race relations, etc etc etc? Any concerns about those?

Forget it. Not even on the radar. He’ll protect Irmo from terrorists but he’s been divorced. That’s the list.

One begins to understand, does one not, how meatheads like Bush and weasels like Cheney and loudmouth nincompoops like – oh, pick your favorite Republican pol – get elected? Your average GOP voter doesn’t exactly think, never mind think things through. They’re voting on emotions, not facts. Viz:

Gina Cox, a real estate agent, and her husband, Wesley, a restaurant manager, both in their 30s, said Giuliani’s social moderation matches their own, even though they consider themselves devout Christians.

“I just think he is so real,” Gina Cox said. “He’s likable.”

Her husband agreed. “He’s a come-as-you-are kind of guy.”

Rudy Giuliani is a what?? “Real”? Rudy? Of all the frauds paraded by the GOP in front of a gullible base, Rudy is the biggest, most obvious fraud of all. Fred Thompson and Tom Tancredo look genuine whenever they’re standing next to him. But to these two bright young things, Rudy is the salt-of-the-earth.

On the other hand, political scientists specializing in the South and looking always for the silver lining, claim that Giuliani’s front-runner status is a function of the fact that nobody’s paying any attention to him yet.

“People don’t know about a lot of Giuliani’s positions,” agreed John G. Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and editor of The Journal of Politics.

No, they don’t, probably because there isn’t that much to know. The GOP front-runner hasn’t said a single coherent word about anything other than 9/11 and terrorism, an omission Republican voters haven’t even noticed, either because they don’t care about anything else or because they’re just not much when it comes to, you know, noticing things. As opposed to being beat over the head by FoxNews.

Or Mitt Romney’s omnipresence.

The campaign is working hard to draw more attention to Romney’s family, which they view as a huge asset for him in the South. Ann Romney, along with a daughter-in-law and grandchild, spent an entire week here this summer on her first solo tour; she has visited the state more than a dozen times by herself, Sullivan said.

Voters like Cathy Herron, 56, a Republican activist from Rock Hill, near Charlotte, are responding to that high visibility. “As a woman, I like how he treats his wife,” she said over a fried green tomato sandwich at a local cafe. “I think things start at home, with how people treat their families.”

She said she also liked Romney’s new TV ad, which criticizes Republicans in Washington for deserting the party’s core values. When sent a link to view the ad on the Internet, she said, “I listened to it three times. I was more impressed each time I saw it.”

“Impressed”. By somebody who wouldn’t know a “core value” from a new species of rodent if you wrapped it up and served it to him on toast, and by the way she thinks he treats his wife despite the fact that all she knows is that he has her campaigning for him to win over simple-minded voters like Cathy Herron.

Maybe GOP voters get the candidates they ask for. Let’s sum up: According to Republican voters, the most powerful national leader on the planet should

  • Protect them from “terrorists” who don’t know they exist;
  • Have their wives shilling actively for them;
  • Have undefined “family values”, including not too many trophy wives (one seems to be OK);
  • Produce lots of manipulative TV commercials promising vaguely that they’ll return to “core values” without bothering to define or explain what those values might be; and
  • Be “likeable”, a “come-as-you-are kind of guy”.

In other words, they want somebody who lies to them, somebody whose life and “thought” are illusions, somebody whose wife pretends to like him, somebody not much brighter than they are if at all, and somebody who won’t tell them anything of substance.

Who does that description remind you of? You bet.

Don Looney, 62, an Irmo native who owns a business that manufactures commercial greenhouses and equipment, said he admired Giuliani – “a tough guy” – but would probably vote for Thompson if the election were today. “Fred, he’s a good conservative guy.”

There you go.

2 Responses to “Republican Voters: Unencumbered By the Thought Process”

  1. The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    Reality is apparently our fatal flaw my friend.

  2. Laura says:

    When I was reading your article, what came to mind for me was (Thanksgiving with my extended family) a scary movie on tv. You’d scream at the tv because you knew the characters were walking right into it. “Nooo! You idiot! Oh man! Why don’t you think?!!!”” Then they became dead and the creature moved on for more victims. It finally became too stupid for you, so you turned off the tv and did yardwork or the dishes or something less irritating.

    I guess I appreciate you reminding us to remain grounded as we set about trying to create change… It’s a true wonder we can even function as a society. There’s such a huge difference between realities you point out; the one created by the people in your article and the one we’re screaming about (like at the tv during a bad movie). Seems as though the reality in your article probably ‘wins’ nonetheless; it will be played out yet again. Crap.

    I think I’ll go watch tv…

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